Choose home contractors with extreme care

A change is as good as a holiday, they say, and this is the thinking behind many homeowners’ decisions to make alterations to their properties. But there is also big money at stake if the work is not done properly.
“At the moment, a very strong driver for home improvements is the difficulty in obtaining bond finance,” says Harcourts Africa CEO Richard Gray. “Many people who might otherwise have moved to a bigger or more luxurious property just don’t want to go through the hassle and anxiety of applying for a new bond, so they are staying put and upgrading their existing homes.
“And they are further persuaded by the high costs of relocation, including transfer duty, bond registration costs and legal fees, which on a R1m property, for example, are now around R45 000, excluding the agent’s commission to sell an existing house. You can make quite a lot of improvements for that.”
The trend is reflected, he says, in the latest FNB Property Barometer, which shows big increases in the number of homeowners who are now fully maintaining their homes (35,5%, up from 28% in 2009) and those who are maintaining and making some improvements (36,3%, up from 31,5% in 2009) – but also shows that almost 70% of those spending money on their properties are doing so for their own convenience and not because they are planning to sell.
“Meanwhile, although Stats SA recorded a drop in the square metreage of home additions and alterations last year, the work completed was still worth a large amount – some R7,4m – and plans were passed for a further R15,4m worth of such work over the next year or two.
“In other words, there is a lot of homeowners’ hard-earned money at stake here, and the situation is exacerbated by the fact that residential building costs did not come down in line with the drop in home values during the recession. Indeed, they rose more than 10% last year, taking the average cost per square metre to around R6800.”
Consequently, says Gray, homeowners need to be very careful when hiring building contractors. “Not being experts in the field, most people tend to focus on project duration and cost, when their first consideration should be the track record of any home improvement company they talk to.
“Bearing in mind that stories of a pleasant building experience, where everything ran smoothly, all was done to the satisfaction of the property owner and the project was completed on time and within budget are few and far between, they should firstly insist on recent references from former customers and be sure to contact them personally and hear what they have to say before committing to any contract.” 
In limiting your risk, he says, it is also important to establish whether the contractor is a member of the relevant industry association, how long the company has been in business and how many similar projects it has successfully completed. Other vital questions to ask are whether or not the contractor has insurance against injury and whether the people doing the work will be his employees, subcontractors or casual labourers.

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 17 Nov 2017
      FWJK has announced the launch of its latest residential brand, the Lil’ Apple, which will be launched simultaneously in two developments in Cape Town and Umhlanga totaling 600 apartments. The Lil’ Apple is set to be a brand of FWJK’s New York style apartments which will be rolled out nationally.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      It’s been a tumultuous year on many fronts, with socio-political uncertainty setting the tone for much of South Africa’s economic activity yet despite this and seemingly counter-intuitively, the residential property market has held up well.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      The EAAB (the Estate Agency Affairs Board) recently claimed that around 50,000 illegal estate agents could currently be operating illegally.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Penthouses are synonymous with New York – characterised by high-rise living that is decidedly luxurious and spacious. While exclusivity comes at a price, you can still create a “penthouse” look and feel in your existing apartment or even the upstairs bedroom of a double storey house with some clever design changes and styling touches.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      The area has long been popular with kite surfers and, with escalating property prices in Cape Town itself, is increasingly in demand with home owners who work in town, but are looking to invest in more affordable properties.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Cape Town’s popularity as a world-class tourist destination has resulted in a spike in the number of homes available for holiday lets and fuelled investor demand for sectional title units with short term rental potential.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      Sappi, one of South Africa’s oldest global companies and a leading global supplier of sustainable woodfibre products, has moved its global and regional headquarters to a new site on the corner of Oxford and 14th Avenue in Rosebank.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      There’s an old saying in real estate that you should seek to make a profit when you buy, not only when you sell – and a large part of succeeding at that endeavour is buying a home in an area with desirable features that will enhance the resale value of your property.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us